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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Nordic Roasted Ham

I watch quite a bit of New Scandinavian Cooking. This fast moving show gives you ideas, and entertains you with fresh local food and beautiful scenery. Once I caught a very quick snip of Andreas Viestad roasting a ham in fresh-made glögg. I missed most of it. I had no clue how much wine he put in or how he cooked it (temperature or time). But I had a ham in the freezer and some spiced wine from Minnesota in the wine rack. I decided to give it a shot with my own twist guided by many years of watching Andres in action.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Five Favorite Holiday Movies

Even during my bah humbug years, I have some traditions I stick to. One is holiday movie watching. A mix of classics and oddball recordings spark off my holiday season.
  • Home for the Holidays (1995)
    This gem starts the season off. It's a Thanksgiving movie in a sea of Christmas favorites. Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr., and
    Cynthia Stevenson are the wild and not so wild children coming together at their parents house (Anne Bancroft and Charles Durning). Secrets are revealed, feelings are dished out, and a turkey goes flying. It has loads of humor, drama, and even a bit of music. It's a typical portrayal of the dysfunctional family get-together with the standard familial roles shown in a very real way. (Directed by Jodie Foster)
  • Mr. Bean Holiday Episodes (1990)
    There isn't much out there that makes me laugh harder than Mr. Bean. I can almost relate to this horrible little man. He always just takes it one step past normal into insanity. It's fun to watch the shorts of him cheating his way to the front of the line, closing the door in the face of the Christmas carolers after taunting them with treats, and of course getting his head stuck in a giant turkey. He brings dinosaurs and Daleks next to the manger and conducts a jazz rendition of God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen. I watch these a few times during the season. Knowing what's going to happen next makes me laugh that much harder.
  • Mixed Nuts (1994)
    This is another star-filled Christmas movie. This funny take on office dynamics and friendships helps me get into the holiday season. Madeline Kahn is the uptight dog-hater Mrs. Munchnik. Rita Wilson is the love-struck but shy Catherine. Steve Martin is the oblivious but well-meaning Philip. Macho Liev Schreiber rocks a little black dress and tangos like nobody's business. Even Adam Sandler makes a small appearance with a ukulele. It has the best breakup line ever, "I didn't want to tell you this over the phone, I really wanted to fax you. But you don't even have a fax!" Look out for John Stewart as a rollerblader. (Directed and written by Nora Ephron)
  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
    This is a well-known classic that shows up on most people's list. It's corny, it's cheesy, it's hilarious. It's the original Christmas meltdown movie, Chevy Chase style. From Christmas-wrapped cats and questionable Christmas trees to and kidnappings and police raids, this wild 80s movie started a new movie tradition in Hollywood.
  • Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special (1988)
    Paul Rubens as Pee-wee Herman creeps some people out, I get that. But I can't go a holiday season without watching this man-child and his cast of stars. Frankie and Annette handcraft cards and end up doing slave labor, Conkie prints out ridiculous Christmas lists, Miss Yvonne has a wild Christmas bouffant, and Jambi gives us a Christmas incantation with a mekka lekka hi, mekka ho ho ho. It's full of song and dance numbers, Charo spices it up with Feliz Navidad, K.D. Lang dances around in a country get up, Grace Jones creeps us out with her 80s stilted dance version of Little Drummer boy, and poor Dinah Shore is abandoned during her 500+ days of Christmas. Pee-wee's friends celebrate all types of holidays, he gets a dreidel from Mrs. Renee and hits a piñata with Ricardo. Fruit cakes are had by all. It's ridiculous, but it's my kind of holiday fun. You can even have a drinking game with the secret word , YEAR!!!!!
Of course there are many holiday movies, It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Carol, A Christmas Story. But these are the movies that I have to see to start my holiday and end my year.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Barrel-Aged Cassidy (Hunter's)

Hunter's aged their Cassidy stout in a Girard Petite Sirah barrel. I waited a year for this...staring over the bar at it slowly aging. I even bought a couple of bottles of the 2012 petite sirah to get an idea of what flavors the barrel might impart. I really had no idea how this would work. A malty stout with a fruity, spicy wine? I love stout, and I crave petite sirah, but the mix sounded a bit odd to me. I trusted the brewers at Hunter's though. They seem to always do it right.

I thought I missed the release. It had been so long. Facebook isn't showing me all Hunter's posts. They have a mug club that might have gotten to tap and finish the brew. Maybe I was on vacation again when they tapped it, like when they released one of the barleywines. I've been out of the game and expected the worst. Then I saw the post on Facebook. They were tapping it for Stout Day. It was a Thursday. It was cold and rainy. I was less than fully mobile. But Mr. K and I made the trek out to Chesterton. We weren't disappointed.

I had a delicious, fruity, chocolatey, spicy sip. It pulled everything it could out of that barrel. The flavor was complex and had depth, but it wasn't so heavy I couldn't finish a glass. The dark jammy fruit wasn't overpowering, it was a nice addition. At 6.5% it wasn't as boozy as most barreled brews, but it still got all the richness.

I took some home to drink side-by-side with a glass of the 2012 petite sirah.

Now I'm waiting and hoping I didn't miss the brew they had slowly fermenting in the tequila barrel. I will wait for that much anticipated Facebook post...